UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE

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We take this opportunity to offer our deepest condolences to family and friends of all those beautiful souls who have fallen victim to suicide. We sincerely
pray all souls are Resting in Peace in Eternal Life!

Suicide is “the act of purposely ending one’s own life”, as clearly defined by Medicinenet.com, a definition echoed by many publications and scholars. Most of us know this already. The challenge is understanding why one would purposely end one’s life, in order for us to
help prevent this unfortunate behaviour from occurring. “Why?” and “How can we prevent it?”.
Why? No-one really knows as people behave differently towards different situations. Reasons could vary immensely, and often, the victims do not even know why themselves. The general assumption when one commits the act of suicide, is that the victim
has some form of mental illness. This stereotype thinking, of directly linking the term “mental illness”, to such cases, has undoubtedly contributed over the years, to the problem in question. As Mr Lionel Rogers said in Ipisnews.com, “Many youths refuse to seek assistance from medical professionals due to the stigma associated with suicide and mental health. This along with our culture of silence has driven them further away and forced
them to suppress their emotions.”. This is said to be very true in our Pacific island cultures. People judge first before remembering to mourn those fallen victim to suicide. Instead of focusing on the cause of the problem, most tend to ponder more on the effects of the problem – how, why, when, where – then comes the finger pointing and unfounded assumptions or speculations of what could’ve possibly caused that person to take his/
her own life. Then comes condemnation. And the cycle continues until another person takes his/her own life, Why? From the bullying? Or is it violence, abuse, youth pregnancies,
unemployment, social and cultural expectations? The list goes on.
Youth suicide statistics were alarmingly high in the Pacific Islands, as reported by Ipsnews. Net (http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/youthsuicides-sound-alarm-across-thepacific/).
Why? Are we not caring to understand how our children are deciphering the world? Are we neglecting to hear their unsound cries for help? Are we too self-absorbed with our own problems to recognise when our youth are struggling to cope with this fast paced, western influenced life?
We instil Pacific cultural values in children brought up in western cultures
– where culture differs – our children struggle, yet we still enforce behaviours we were brought up with in the islands? Should we reassess our values, and compromise to suit the cultures that we have chosen to immigrate to? If we still live in the islands, the level of western exposure is huge to the minds of young Samoans. Samoans are a bunch of welltravelled people. Can we honestly say, that physically punishing the young ones, is the
only effective way of teaching good values to our children? Can you assure me that a
parent’s constant nagging, and “beating sense into a child” is the ONLY effective way of preparing children to live as adults in this world? For who’s benefit? The child or yours/and what you can gain from the child? Do we have children’s best interests at heart, when we bring them up, expecting them to be at our beck and call when we become too old to be the usual bread winners of the household? Are these questions raised, relevant at all in our quest to understand why Pacific Island youths are choosing to take the hard way out of this
life by committing suicide? You be the judge. Noone is perfect, hence why we have so many questions as to the “WHY’s”. The pressures of “keeping up with the Jones” can do so much harm. This could be only one of the many reasons why young people could be driven down the path of suicide. BUT it, like many other excuses or reasonings, are not worth exploring if we don’t care enough to do something to prevent suicide.
The common phrases such as “va’aiga a tagata” or “fiatagata” are terms that have existed
for too long in the Samoan culture. From Samoan statistics on death by suicide, it appears
the concerning age group is above 14 and under 25. The Australian statistics seem to hover on the 40-45 age range and peaking at 85 years old and over, for those who have died
from suicide. From a Christian or religious viewpoint, we ALL are not immune to thoughts of suicide. I once heard a preacher on Hope radio station say, that if you hear of a traumatic situation that’s happened to someone else, or if you hear of someone committing a horrific
act to another human being, do not judge. This is because YOU and I are very much capable of committing the same horrendous crime. The only reason why YOU and I haven’t done what the other person had just done – for instance, cold blooded murder – is because the Grace of God has kept us from doing so. How come we had the Grace or Mercy of God
and they didn’t? The grace of God, as he explained, can only be obtained through constant prayers and strong faith. Every single human being is prone to commit evil, but if we seek God’s Grace always, wholeheartedly, we can count on God’s mercy to protect us and our minds and hearts.
Now, do not go about thinking that those people out there who have committed suicide
lacked God’s grace and mercy. God is there for you and I and every single soul on this planet. We cannot judge what happened to those loved ones that fell victim to suicide. You MUST not judge. Instead, perhaps we can pray for God’s mercy over EVERYONE, especially those with lukewarm hearts, and not only seek grace for ourselves.
Another very insightful lesson I learned thus far was from another preacher claiming that
despite widespread beliefs about what happens to suicide victims when they die, he believes
that if the victim was very religious and did great and unselfish deeds for the good of others whilst they were living, and generally living a peaceful and faithful life, that God’s mercy will bring them home to heaven regardless. That makes very good sense because we believe God is a forgiving God and knows that we humans are weak and are constantly sinning,
but if our hearts are in the right place, then how can one say, that we would go to hell
for committing suicide? As Pope Francis would say, “Who am I to judge?”.
Beyond Blue is one of the most active organizations out there in Australia, that reaches
out to everyone and anyone that could be in danger from depression, suicidal thoughts and the like, and I did not realise how much they’ve done or how active they were really, until I attempted to look at this topic of suicide, in light of recent events with this issue. Last week, someone I know attempted to commit suicide. He was only in his late 20’s. To people around him, he was fortunate the act did not end his life because someone found him in time. To him, he would not be so thrilled perhaps, with the result. We may never know the answer. What the people around him should focus on, is to BE THERE for this beautiful soul, and encourage him to seek the right help to deal with whatever caused him to try. My heart breaks to think that no one was there for many other beautiful souls when they fell victim to suicide though. It is very scary to have people around you show snippets of the “signs” we are all meant to look out for.
It is not a guaranteed solution, but it sure is better than remaining ignorant and not try
to help prevent this from happening to a loved one.
According to Beyond Blue, the below table illustrates a list of possible signs people might
reveal when they are overwhelmed with emotions, that could lead to suicide.
Some people with depression use jokes to mask their real feelings. While they put a smile
on our faces, who is putting a smile on their faces? Reach out to whomever may be going
through a hard time, and remember, not everyone struggling to live are suicidal so do not
generalise.

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